airgo

This story provides an interesting glimpse into both the standards process and chip maker's business models. It seems that the main faction that pushed Draft 1.0 through the IEEE Task Group N has a bit of a conflict of interest. The companies involved, Atheros, Broadcom and Marvell, were already "showing silicon" - i.e., have demonstration chips available. The Draft 1.0 was positioned by Atheros' CTO as being a complete standard except for, "small details to work out." If those "small details" get any bigger, the toika will have to "retape" their chip designs, which would require significant (and expensive) testing - not to mention reset the development work being done by vendors looking to use the troika's chips in new products.

Now a vendor with a different perspective has raised their voice.

Airgo’s chief Greg Raleigh said in an interview on Tuesday, however,
that “There’s been an unprecedented effort to manipulate and monopolize
the standards process.” Raleigh maintains there are a few key issues
for performance and backwards compatibility that are simple and won’t
change the cost for chip or device production. “It literally takes a
couple of weeks” to make these changes in the spec, he said. Several
chip competitors that are trying “to prevent any improvements” because
they’re “struggling to ship chips based on immature versions of the
standards.”

So where stands the march to an official standard?

Raleigh said Airgo hasn’t committed to silicon yet because they believe
a Draft 2.0 or 3.0 will be required before they are comfortable putting
their fabless—that’s chip-fabrication-plant-less—efforts into what
they’re calling their Gen N chip, which will succeed three generations
of chips they’ve sold into the marketplace through Belkin, NetGear, and
others. Cisco and Motorola are chairing an ad hoc group in Task Group N
to put together a proposal for some changes to Draft 1.0, Raleigh said.
Thousands of comments from the ballot that will go out are also
expected, one source said.

The conclusion here seems to be, don't plan on incorporating 802.11n radios into your products any time soon, unless you want a proprietary product (or a considerable upgrade once the real standard is complete). And if you're a potential buyer, be patient.

UPDATE: This must be a hot story, based on the page loads this story has gotten - and from some interesting domains, too.